COM 251-03 (13632) Introduction to Electronic Mass Media
Steven Alan Carr, Ph.D.
Course Syllabus
Fall 2006

last updated 6 Sep 06

Course Content and Goals

Building upon COM 250, which focuses on the history and structure of media industries, the goal of this course is to teach how to speak and write effectively when analyzing the basic techniques making up any mediated text.  You will learn standard terminology when discussing the basic techniques of mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, and sound.  You also will learn how to discuss the overall form and structure of mediated images in a way that shows serious engagement with an entire work; how to discuss the meanings resulting from various combinations of techniques; and how to discuss various interpretations of these meanings, including but not limited to those possibly intended by the author.  You will learn how critical analysis in an academic essay balances "personal feelings, expectations, and reactions" with "rigorous reflection" (Corrigan 16) in a way that is "systematic, clear, but thorough" (Bordwell and Thompson xv).

Prerequisites and Intended Audience

Although there are no prerequisites for this course, it is assumed that students have taken or are currently enrolled in COM 250 Mass Communication and Society. The intended audience consists of freshmen and sophomore Communication majors in the Media and Public degree track, as well as anyone seeking General Education credit in Area IV Humanistic Thought.

Course Requirements

The normal schedule for reading assignments will be between 30-60 pages per week. Consequently, one of your primary responsibilities will be to prepare for each week's reading by completing assigned readings before Tuesday's class meeting. To that end, there will be thirteen (13) online quizzes worth 100 points each, due before class on the assigned date before 12 PM noon. In addition, you are responsible for checking your IPFW email address, or arranging for forwarding email to another email address. You should check both your email and WebCT on a daily basis for important course announcements.  Working in teams, you will propose, design, test, and evaluate twelve (12) analysis modules worth 100 points each due on the assigned date beginning at 4:30 PM. You will take a midterm and a final. You will be required to write a final, argument driven paper analysis paper focusing on a particular interpretation of a mediated text and demonstrating how you have successfully balanced your “personal feelings, expectations, and reactions” with “rigorous reflection” (Corrigan).  Finally, your participation will be assessed, primarily on the basis of what you do during the scheduled class meeting time, but in general on the basis of what you do as a stakeholder to help make this class a success.


No incompletes will be given for this course, except in extreme circumstances. If an extreme circumstance does arise, however, you are urged to notify the instructor and propose a workable solution as soon as possible. A workable solution in this case, of course, would include the possibility of an incomplete.  However, a request for an incomplete will only be granted only for assignments that have already been started.  Under no circumstances can a student do additional work after final grades have been submitted to raise his or her final grade.


It is expected that all work submitted is the original work prepared specifically for this course by the student whose name appears on it.


Thirteen (13) online quizzes worth 100 points each for a total of 1300 points will be available for a 24 hour window before the date of an assigned reading, and due before 12 PM noon on that date. You may use your textbook and notes, but you will have a maximum of 30 minutes to take each quiz.  Quizzes will consist of ten (10) multiple-choice questions.  You will take these quizzes online.  Once you open the quiz and see the questions, you must answer at least 6 questions correctly on that quiz in order to be eligible to retake it.  You may print off the quiz.  However, if you print a hard copy of the quiz to study with it and you do not complete the quiz within 30 minutes, you will receive a grade of zero and you will forfeit the opportunity for a retake.  If you score 60% or more on a quiz, but less than 100%, you will be able to access the questions, but you will not be able to distinguish between which questions were answered correctly and which were not.  Once you answer all questions correctly, the quiz will be removed and you no longer will be able to access it.  Any distribution of the questions and/or their answers, whether electronically or in hard copy, by one student to another will be treated as an instance of academic dishonesty and will result in an automatic grade of F for the course for all involved.


Twelve (12) times throughout the semester, in-class teams will author, test, and evaluate an analysis module (AM) and post the results on WebCT.  Analysis modules must build upon the screening of a short clip and/or assigned reading for the week; be produced from careful notes based on selecting and using details relevant to media analysis; and result in making a germane argument drawing from these details.  Each analysis module should use resources already available on campus during regularly scheduled meeting times and be completed in less than 30 minutes.  Each team will have approximately 30 minutes of class time to develop any module.  However, teams are encouraged to develop their own workflow by generating and developing ideas in advance of this meeting.  The instructor will make WebCT resources available, including an online discussion forum for each team.  Each submission is worth 100 points for a total of 1200 points and is due beginning at 4:30 PM on the assigned date. You will not receive written feedback from the instructor on these modules, unless specifically requested. Each module will be assessed on the basis of its substantiality, its relevance to the reading, and its feasibility.  Based on these criteria, modules will be assessed as excellent, satisfactory, fair, or poor.  Only team members who earn 60 points or better on a module may revise and resubmit that module for an individual grade once it has been submitted.  Each module must include the names of all team members who actually participated in its creation.  It is each team's responsibility to maintain the Honors System in accurately reporting the names of those who contributed to the project.


You will take a midterm and a non-comprehensive final. Both the midterm and final will build upon readings, questions that appear on the quizzes, on online discussion questions, and on issues raised in class discussion. Both the midterm and the final each will count 500 possible points toward your final grade.


You must write a final, argument-driven analysis paper worth 500 points.  This paper will be submitted in parts - including a proposal (100 points), a sample paragraph (100 points), a scene segmentation (100 points), and a final draft (200 points) - at various intervals throughout the semester.


Your participation is worth 1000 points or 20% toward your final grade. This participation will be assessed primarily, though not exclusively, on the basis of what you do during our scheduled class meetings. You will not receive feedback on your participation unless specifically requested. The burden of proof is on you to maintain detailed, accurate, and clearly presented records of your contributions to the success of the class. Although you are not required to do so, you are strongly encouraged to maintain evidence of these contributions throughout the semester. This data can include evidence of preparation (such as detailed, original notes), letters of support from other students, written self-evaluations of your performance, etc. Should a difference of opinion arise with regard to the level of your performance, you will be asked to produce these records upon request.  Failure to participate in class, regardless of attendance, will directly impact this portion of your grade.


Your final grade will be determined based on the following criteria:

Thirteen (13) Quizzes @ 100 pts ea

1300 points (26%)

Wed before 12 PM noon (unless otherwise noted)

Twelve (12) Analysis Modules @ 100 pts ea

1200 points (24%)

Fri beginning at 4:30 PM (unless otherwise noted)

Midterm Exam

500 points (10%)

F 13 Oct

Argument-Driven Analysis Paper

500 points (10%)

F 29 Sep; W 11 Oct; F 28 Oct; F 8 Dec

Final Exam

500 points (10%)

Fri 15 Dec 1-3 PM


1000 points (20%)



5000 points (100%)




(Above Average)


(Below Average, But Passable)






0 - 2999


Tentative Course Schedule




Due (12 PM noon, unless otherwise noted)

Representation and Criticism

M 21 Aug

Screening: “Workers Leaving the Factory” (Lumiere, 1895); excerpt fr. Lumiere and Co. (Fox Lorber, 1995); “Duck Amuck” (Warner Bros., 1953); Rodney King video (1991); excerpt fr. Natural Born Killers (Warner Bros. 1995); “No Lies” (Direct Cinema, 1994); “Eternal Frame” (Ant Farm, 1975)

W 23 Aug

Course Introduction


F 25 Aug

Image, Reality, and Media Criticism

Corrigan ch 1; Kolker ch 1 (pdf)

M 28 Aug

Screening: Citizen Kane (RKO, 1941)

W 30 Aug

Analyzing Form and Structure

Bordwell and Thompson chs 2-3

Quiz 1

Last Day to Complete Online Student Agreement

F 1 Sep

AM 1 (due beginning 4:30 PM)

M 4 Sep



W 6 Sep

Genre Criticism

Bordwell and Thompson ch 4; Corrigan ch 2

Quiz 2

F 8 Sep

AM 2 (due beginning 4:30 PM)

M 11 Sep

Screening: The Searchers (Warner Bros., 1956)

W 13 Sep


Bordwell and Thompson ch 5 up to p 146

Quiz 3

F 15 Sep

AM 3 (due beginning 4:30 PM)

M 18 Sep

Screening: Man with a Movie Camera (Amkino, 1929); “Night Mail” (ABFD, 1936); High School (Zipporah, 1968)

W 20 Sep

Experimental and Animation

Bordwell and Thompson ch 5 to end

Quiz 4

F 22 Sep

AM 4 (due beginning 4:30 PM)

M 25 Sep

Screening: “Ballet Mecanique” (Leger, 1924); “Meshes of the Afternoon” (Deren, 1943); “Fireworks” (Anger, 1947); “A Movie” (Conner, 1958); “Neighbours” (NFB, 1952); “Motion Painting No. 1” (Fischinger, 1947); “Mothlight” (Brakhage, 1963); others

Elements of Style in the Moving Image

W 27 Sep

Mise-en-Scene: Setting, Costume, Makeup, and Lighting

Bordwell and Thompson ch 6 up to p 198; Corrigan ch 3 up to p 57

Quiz 5

F 29 Sep

AM 5

Analysis Paper Proposal and Abstract (due beginning 4:30 PM)

M 2 Oct

Screening: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (UFA, 1919); Touch of Evil (Universal, 1959)

W 4 Oct

Mise-en-Scene: Staging, Acting, Space, and Time

Bordwell and Thompson ch 6 to end; Corrigan ch 3 to end

Quiz 6

F 6 Oct

AM 6 (due beginning 4:30 PM)

M 9 Oct


W 11 Oct

In-Class Writing Workshop

Corrigan ch 4
Analysis Paper Sample Paragraph (due beginning 4:30 PM)

F 13 Oct

MIDTERM – DUE beginning 4:30 PM

M 16 Oct

Screening: Singin’ in the Rain (MGM, 1952); The Passion of Joan of Arc (Capital Film Exchange, 1929)

W 18 Oct

Cinematography: Framing the Shot

Bordwell and Thompson ch 7 up to p 266

Quiz 7

F 20 Oct

AM 7 (due beginning 4:30 PM)

M 23 Oct

Screening: Visions of Light (Kino, 1993); The Draughtsman’s Contract (UA, 1983)

W 25 Oct

Cinematography: The Mobile Frame and the Long Take

Bordwell and Thompson ch 7 to end; Corrigan ch 5

Quiz 8

F 28 Oct

AM 8

Analysis Paper Scene Segmentation (due beginning 4:30 PM)

Last Day to Withdraw (no refund)

M 30 Oct

Screening: The Last Laugh (UFA, 1924); La Grande Illusion (RAC, 1937)

W 1 Nov

Continuity Editing

Bordwell Ch 8 up to p 320

Quiz 9

F 3 Nov

AM 9 (due beginning 4:30 PM)

M 6 Nov

Screening: The Maltese Falcon (Warner Bros., 1941); The 39 Steps (Gaumont, 1935)

M 8 Nov

Discontinuity and Editing

Bordwell and Thompson ch 8 to end

Quiz 10

F 10 Nov

AM 10 (due beginning 4:30 PM)

M 13 Nov

Screening: The Battleship Potemkin (Goskino, 1926); Weekend (Grove, 1967)

W 15 Nov

Fundamentals of Sound

Bordwell and Thompson ch 9 up to p 366

Quiz 11

F 17 Nov

AM 11 (due beginning 4:30 PM)

M 20 Nov

Screening: Letter from Siberia (Argos, 1957); A Man Escaped (Continental, 1956)

W 24 Nov


F 26 Nov

M 27 Nov

Screening: Seven Samurai (Toho, 1954)

W 29 Nov

Sound and Perspective

Bordwell and Thompson ch 9 to end

Quiz 12

F 1 Dec

AM 12 (due beginning 4:30 PM)

M 4 Dec

Screening: American Television and Video Art

W 6 Dec

American Television and Its Critics



Quiz 13

F 8 Dec

Analysis Paper Final Draft

All Retakes and Resubmits

R 15 Dec

Scheduled Final Exam 1-3 PM